Seventh grade is the time in a student’s life when they begin to inquire and want to learn the "why" of life. As a school, we offer additional curriculum and extra-curricular choices to keep pace with today's dynamic, young student's needs. Our curriculum is rigorous and, along with our extra-curricular programs, provide many opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills.
Book-Alive in Christ. As 7th graders, we will be exploring and learning more about Jesus Christ and the New Testament. We will also encourage the students to begin expressing their views through creative methods such as our regular video-taped newscast-Catholic News Around the World or C-NAV. Here students expand their knowledge of the Faith by exploring their Faith around the world. From the Vatican to Australia, it’s news with a Catholic point of view. We also organize a debate format to allow the students the ability to argue their point of view on a wide range of today’s social topics with scripture as the root of the debate. As they excavate through this period of life, they are met with the Word of God and encouraged to use the Word as a daily life guide here at St Joes.
Our science curriculum is on a two-year cycling schedule. The seventh and eighth grade students study together in combined classes to accommodate this structure.
a. Earth science units are covered in the first trimester of the school year. In Cycle A (2018-2019 school year), the Weather and Climate unit "explores the atmospheric events and oceanic processes that impact the earth and its inhabitants. Students experiment with factors that determine storms and daily weather, explore the impact of oceans on the earth, and examine the influences that produce climate zones and climate changes" (Carolina Science, 2014). In Cycle B (2017-2018 school year), the Plate Tectonics unit covers the topics of earthquakes, volcanoes, and general plate tectonics. "By performing...hands-on activities based on the manipulation of simple models and the study of maps, students extend and enrich their knowledge of the structure of the earth's interior and crust" (Carolina Science, 2014).
b. Physical science units are covered in the second trimester of the school year. In Cycle A (2018-2019 school year), the Circuit design unit "provides students with a hands-on introduction to electricity and circuits. By building their own circuits and using them to light bulbs, power fans, and function in other prescribed ways, students are able to explore the idea that circuits provide a way to transform electrical energy into sound, heat, light, or kinetic energy" (Carolina Science, 2014). In Cycle B (2017-2018 school year), the Properties of Matter unit allows students to "investigate some basic properties of matter and the use of these properties to distinguish one substance from another" (Carolina Science, 2014).
c. Life science units are covered in the third trimester of the school year. In Cycle A (2018-2019 school year), the Development and Reproduction of Organisms unit "gives students theopportunity to perform thought-provoking, hands-on activities based around plants and animals" (Carolina Science, 2014). By studying Wisconsin Fast Plants and the cabbage white butterfly, students study life cycles and their processes. In Cycle B (2017-2018 school year), the Biodiversity and Interdependence "introduces students to the structure, function, and diversity of living things" (Carolina Science, 2014). Discoveries are made about survival, reproduction, heredity, and identifying organisms.
d. In December and January, students participate in the C-STEM fair individually or with a partner. Students come up with original science or engineering-based project ideas that follow either the scientific method or engineering design process. Students first research the concepts and then either perform an experiment or construct their project in order to solve the problem that they have stated. Students are judged, and those with the top projects have the opportunity to move on to a diocesan-wide STEM fair.
Also, at the end of the school year when the 8th grade is on their class trip, 7th graders get the unique opportunity to dissect a fish and cow's eyeball and virtually dissect an earthworm.
e. Some field trips that we have done are performing various tests on Lake Waconia, going to the Tamarack Nature Preserve, and going to the Minnesota Science Museum.
Middle School Technology Consists of the following:
- One-to-One computing with iPads (grades 5 & 6) and laptop PCs (grades 7 & 8)
- Keyboarding Skill Development via typingclub.com
- Course-specific technology skills (word processing, spreadsheet, power point, etc.)
- Progressing through the Smart Lab curriculum.
- Use of cloud-based computing via Office 365 and Google G-Suite.
- Coding via the CS First Curriculum, which incorporates the Scratch programming language.
- Units in contemporary technology areas such as VR (virtual reality) and AI (artificial intelligence).
- Technology analysis thing regarding topics such as:
- Which Cloud is Best: Office 365 or Google G-Suite
- Mac v PC
- Database v Spreadsheet
- Dangers of screen time: what is enough and what is too much
Defined STEM or Project Based Learning(PBL) is C-STEM, the 2.0 version. The projects our students work on are as close to real life projects as you can get, but without being on site!
PBL allows us to activate and apply the 4 C's of learning; Creativity, Communications, Critical Thinking and Collaboration in meeting 21st century learner needs. More importantly, our students are learning how to work together in groups to achieve a goal. Students learn to take responsibility for the group's performance.
The Design Challenges us to go even further in preparing our students for the future. They learn: how to create awesome presentations, organizational dynamics, operational design, budgeting, marketing, and the role our Faith can play in our process.
Pre-Algebra – Topics covered in this course include but are not limited to the following: integers; rational numbers; solving equations and inequalities; ratios, proportions, and percents; Geometry: angles, shapes, transformations, area, surface area, and volume; graphing and writing linear equations; real numbers and Pythagorean Theorem; exponents and scientific notation. The textbook used in Pre-Algebra is titled Big Ideas Math Accelerated.
Algebra – In order for a 7th grader to be a student in this course, they must have successfully passed Pre-Algebra.
Language arts students in the seventh grade continue to use the "Expeditionary Learning" curriculum, a comprehensive reading and writing program which is skill-based and fully aligned to state and national academic standards. Students progress as a class through four learning "modules" throughout the year, each consisting of three units and overarching essential questions and themes with real-world connections. These modules feature central texts (books, articles, poems, and speeches) which students analyze in-depth and use to practice targeted skills.
In seventh grade, students think about "Journeys and Survival" as they explore the experiences of the people of South Sudan during and after the Second Sudanese Civil War. They then consider "Working Conditions in the Past and Present" while they learn about historical and modern day working conditions through historical fiction and research. The concept of slavery is brought up as students develop an understanding of an author's purpose and the power of story-telling while reading about the life of Frederick Douglass. Finally, students finish the year thinking about how "Water is Life" for all people as they read and write about informational texts concerning sustainability and fresh water management. Focused writing assignments, both creative and analytical, are embedded in these modules and focus on research and supporting ideas with text-based evidence.
Furthermore, students read widely as they meet independent reading requirements in a variety of genres each trimester. While most writing and reading goals are part of the comprehensive curriculum described above, students also partake in daily grammar exercises in class and weekly reading and grammar practices online.
In 7th grade, we immerse students in history with an inquiry-based social studies program! By using the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Social Studies curriculum, students will dig into the geography, history, culture, and people from around the world by engaging in classroom activities that include technology and collaboration. To learn more about HMH visit their website at https://www.hmhco.com/programs/hmh-social-studies.